In our latest Sydney Mechanics School of Arts Library Crime and Mystery Book Club, we discussed books that had been adapted for television and film. Some were done well and some we not, and of course, some were better in the written form and some actually were improved on screen. Here are our recommendations:
A Morbid Taste for Bones by Ellis Peters
This is the first book in the Cadfael series and was made into a British TV series starring Derek Jacobi.
Death of a Gossip by M.C. Beaton
This is the first book in the Hamish McBeath series and was made into a British TV series starring Robert Carlyle.
Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
This is the first book in the Swedish trilogy was made into a nine hour miniseries for Swedish television that was reedited into three theatrical movies that did very well internationally. This book was also made into an English speaking film with American and English actors. I personally preferred the Swedish version because it holds truer to the Lisbeth character.
The Remorseful Day by Colin Dexter
The Remorseful Day is the last Inspector Morse, and of course Inspector Morse was a long running British TV series starring John Thaw and inspired two spin offs. Lewis, about his sidekick Sargent Lewis, and a prequel - Endeavour, about a young Morse set in the 1960s.
Wire In The Blood by Val McDermid
Wire In The Blood is the book the TV series is named after is the first in the Tony Hill/Carol Jordan series.
Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith
Child 44 was made into a movie starring Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman and Noomi Rapace in 2015
Runaway Jury by John Grisham
This is Grisham's seventh novel, but was only the ninth one to be made into a movie starring Dustin Hoffman, Gene Hackman, John Cusack and Rachel Weisz
The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
This series of books from Alexander McCall Smith was made into a US TV series in 2009.
Sidney Chambers and The Shadow of Death by James Runcie
This collection of short stories have been made into a UK TV series called Grantchester after the town Sidney lives in.
L.A. Confidential by James Ellroy
Ellroy's third novel in the LA Quartet was made into a very successful film in 2008.
Agatha Raisin and The Quiche of Death by M.C. Beaton
Another series from M.C. Beaton made into an UK TV show.
Frosted Christmas by R.D. Wingfield
Frosted Christmas is the very first DI Frost novel. The UK TV series, A Touch of Frost, starred David Jason. It was very popular and ran for a long time.
Sidetracked by Henning Mankell
OK, this series of books about Swedish detective Kurt Wallander has been made into a very long running TV series called Wallander in Sweden starring Krister Henriksson from 2005 to 2013. It was made again in English, by the British, starring Kenneth Branagh.
Standing In Another Man's Grave by Ian Rankin
Rankin's very popular character Inspector Rebus has been brought to TV by two actors, Ken Stott and John Hannah. Both great actors, but very different approaches to character.
The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
What can I say? It is a classic in both mediums. Read it and watch the movie.
Meet Inspector Banks by Peter Robinson
Inspector Banks was brought to British TV in the last few years. The next series is due out this year.
The Night Manager by John Le Carre
Other John Le Carre's novels have been dramatised, most notably the Smiley books. However, this recent British TV miniseries is a very slick and sexy take on a later novel from Le Carre.
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
Originally published in 1898, this gothic novel was made into an opera by Benjamin Britten, a ballet by Will Tucket, a play (The Innocents) by Harold Pinter, five feature films (some non-English speaking), over 10 TV movies (again some non-English speaking), and it has also heavily influenced other novels.
Laura by Vera Caspary
This 1942 novel was made into a classic film in 1944 (yes another one) by Otto Preminger starring Gene Tierney and Dana Andrews.
Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith
Made into a film by Michael Apted in 1983 starring William Hurt, Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith was written in 1981 and was the first book in his series set in Soviet Russia.
Before I go to Sleep by S.J. Watson
This is a debut novel by S.J. Watson that was published in 2011 and made into a film starring Nicole Kidman in 2014.